Most Frequently Asked Questions About Level I of the CFA® Exam

If you have considered sitting for CFA level Iexam, you probably have questions. You’re always welcome to reach out to our knowledgeable Student Support team with any questions you have about preparing for the exam. Here is a list of most frequently asked questions we receive from people preparing to take the first step toward becoming a CFA charterholder.

What is the CFA® charter?

Let’s start with the basics. The Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) charter is a professional designation administered by CFA Institute. According to CFA Institute, it’s the most respected and recognized investment management designation in the world.

How do I earn the CFA charter?

To earn the CFA charter, you must pass three levels of the exam in order: Level I, Level II, and Level III. Each exam builds on the mastery demonstrated by achieving a passing score on the previous exams.

Is the CFA charter a degree?

It is not a degree. It’s a professional credential that demonstrates mastery of advanced investment analysis and real-world portfolio management. Candidates often weigh the benefits of the CFA charter against those of an MBA, which may be a contributing factor in this common misunderstanding.

What To Expect on the CFA Level I Exam?

Candidates should expect the CFA Level I exam to be complicated. Candidates should take their prep seriously and anticipate using an approved CFA calculator when answering the 180 multiple-choice questions in 4 hours and 30 minutes.

What is the date for Level I of the CFA exam?

The Level I CFA exam is offered multiple times per year so find a CFA exam date that works for you.

Can I postpone my CFA exam after I’ve registered?

You can only postpone your CFA exam after you’ve registered in specific circumstances, mostly related to medical reasons. It’s easier to withdraw, but unless you withdraw within three days of registering, you will have to pay the registration fees again and re-register. There are many CFA exam postponement rules for candidates to be aware of, especially if you think you can’t take the exam on the scheduled date.

What are the requirements to sit for the CFA exam?

An individual wishing to enroll in the CFA Program and register for the Level I exam for the first time must possess an international travel passport. In addition, candidates must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) or two years remaining in your undergraduate studies
  • Have accumulated 4,000 hours of applicable professional work experience (not required to be investment-related)

Candidates may also have a combination of full-time professional experience and education that totals a minimum of 4,000 hours. Those hours of experience/education must be accrued prior to enrollment in the program.

What is the format of Level I of the CFA exam?

The exam format is computer-based with 180 multiple-choice questions. There are two 2 hours and 15 minute session times.

What topics are tested on the Level I CFA exam, and what is their weightage?

The weights of the Level I exam topics are subject to change on a year-to-year basis, at the discretion of the CFA Institute. Currently the Level I CFA exam weights and topics are:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards (15-20%)
  • Quantitative Methods (6-9%)
  • Economics (6-9%)
  • Financial Statement Analysis (11-14%)
  • Corporate Issuers (6-9%)
  • Equity Investments (11-14%)
  • Fixed Income (11-14%)
  • Derivatives (5-8%)
  • Alternative Investments (7-10%)
  • Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning (8-12%)

How much time does it take to study for the exam?

The average candidate for Level I of the CFA exam should spend a minimum of 300 hours over the course of six months preparing for the exam.

Can I Take a CFA Level I Mock Exam In-Person?

Yes, through Kaplan Schweser you can visit a Prometric exam center near you and take a practice test just like you will on exam day. Your in-person mock exam appointment can be scheduled for any day; there are no predetermined dates for “Mock Exam Windows”.

Ready To Start Preparing for the CFA Exam?

Looking for more guidance on how to prepare for Level I of the CFA® exam? Enroll in our CFA Level I, program to receive expert instruction, CFA Program study materials, and more. Give yourself the best chance to prepare, practice, and perform on the CFA exam.